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Oil prices have doubled in a year. Here’s why

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It’s a good day for OPEC. Data published Monday by the oil cartel show its members have largely complied with an agreement to slash production. The confirmation caps a remarkable year for OPEC, which was forced to devise a plan to boost prices after they fell to $26 per barrel in February 2016. The price collapse — to levels not seen since 2003 — was caused by months of growing oversupply, slowing demand from China and a decision by Western powers to lift Iran’s nuclear sanctions. Since then, the market has mounted a stunning turnaround, with crude prices doubling to trade at $53.50 per barrel. Here’s how major oil producers worked together to push prices higher: OPEC deal OPEC agreed major production cuts in November, hoping to tame the global oil oversupply and support prices. The news of the deal immediately boosted prices by 9%. Investors cheered even more after several non-OPEC producers, including Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan, joined the effort to restrain supply. Crucially, the deal has stuck. The OPEC report published Monday showed that its members have — for the most part — fulfilled their pledges to slash production. The International Energy Agency agrees: It estimated OPEC compliance for January at 90%. UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei told CNNMoney on Monday that the results were even better than he had expected. The production cuts total 1.8 million barrels per day and are scheduled to run for six months. Related: OPEC has pulled off one of its ‘deepest’ production cuts Investors upbeat The OPEC deal took months to negotiate, and investors really, really like it. The number of hedge funds and other institutional investors that are betting on higher prices hit a record in January, according to OPEC. The widespread optimism is helping to fuel price increases. Higher demand The latest data from OPEC and the IEA show that global demand for oil was higher than expected in 2016, thanks to stronger economic growth, higher vehicle sales and colder than expected weather in the final quarter of the year. Demand is set to grow further in 2017 to an average of 95.8 million barrels a day, compared 94.6 million barrels per day in 2016. The IEA said that if OPEC sticks to its agreement, the global oil glut that has plagued markets for three years will finally disappear in 2017. Saudi oil minister: I don’t lose sleep over shale What’s next? Despite the stunning growth, analysts caution that prices may not go much higher. That’s because higher oil prices are likely to lure American shale producers back into the market. The total number of active oil rigs in the U.S. stood at 591 last week, according to data from Baker Hughes. That’s 152 more than a year ago. U.S. crude stockpiles swelled in January to nearly 200 million barrels above their five-year average, according to the OPEC report. “This vast increase in inventories is a result of a strong supply response from the U.S. shale producers, who were not involved in the OPEC agreement and who have instead been using the resultant price rally to increase output,” said Fiona Cincotta, an analyst at City Index. More supply could once again put OPEC under pressure. CNNMoney (London) First published February 13, 2017: 9:13 AM ET



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Trump legal team official response calls impeachment case ‘dangerous’

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  • President Donald Trump’s legal team argued in a six-page letter that House Democrats’ articles of impeachment were a “dangerous attack.”
  • The letter was the first formal response to the House’s two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
  • The letter revealed the strategy Trump’s legal team will use in the Senate trial beginning next week, arguing that the articles of impeachment don’t include any criminal actions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump’s legal team issued its first formal response to the House Democrats’ articles of impeachment on Saturday, calling the case a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President.”

Trump faces two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The charges are based on allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine after urging its president to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House’s six-page formal response called the charges “an affront to the Constitution of the United States, our democratic institutions, and the American people,” lambasting the House impeachment proceedings as a “rigged process” conducted by vengeful Democrats.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election — now just months away,” the letter said. “The highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the President began the day he was inaugurated and continues to this day.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he welcomes the 2019 NCAA National Championship Football team the Louisiana State University Tigers to the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he welcomes 2019 National Championship Football team the Louisiana State University Tigers to White House in Washington
Reuters


The letter also revealed the strategy Trump’s legal team will be adopting — mainly arguing that the articles of impeachment don’t include any criminal actions and are therefore unconstitutional.

The Constitution allows Congress to remove a president from office after determining the president is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the definitions for which have stoked much debate in recent months.

Yet the White House’s letter urged senators to reject the articles of impeachment in the trial that begins next week, arguing that both articles failed to state impeachable offenses, crimes, or violations of law.

“They are defective in their entirety. They are the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the President any due process,” the letter said. “They rest on dangerous distortions of the Constitution that would do lasting damage to our structure of government.”

Also on Saturday, House impeachment managers filed a 46-page trial memorandum arguing that Trump “abandoned his oath” by using “his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain,” and must be pulled from office.



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Police called after Target manager refuses to sell 1 cent toothbrush

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  • A man claiming to be an award-winning journalist churned up viral outrage after he says he called the police on a Target manager who refused to sell him an electric toothbrush for 1 cent.
  • David Leavitt tweeted a photo of the Target manager, a display that advertises an Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for $0.01, and a screenshot of Massachusetts law dictating that stores must sell items for the lowest price indicated on a sign or advertisement. 
  • A GoFundMe started by a third party has raised more than $16,000 so far for the Target manager, who has only been identified as “Tori” – but the GoFundMe account owner has yet to track down the real Tori, so it’s unclear where the money will actually go. 
  • Leavitt, who also claims he plans to sue Target, is verified on Twitter and says he has bylines with CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and the Examiner, but his journalism credentials are questionable and he’s repeatedly gone viral for outrageous, offensive tweets. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A self-identified “award-winning multimedia journalist” became the target of outrage on Twitter after he posted a picture of a Massachusetts Target manager and claimed he called the police on her because she wouldn’t sell him an electric toothbrush for one cent. 

David Leavitt, who is verified on Twitter, tweeted pictures of “Tori” the store manager, a display for an Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush with a price tag for $0.01, and a screenshot of a webpage about the Massachusetts Item Pricing Law, which requires that stores sell items at the lowest price indicated on a sign or advertisment.

That law also states that if there is a discrepancy between the price listed on the shelf and what the item rings up as, the customer should be given a $10 deduction from the lowest advertised price. Leavitt went on to claim that Target “refused” to sell him the toothbrush and so he called the police.

Leavitt then tweeted that the police “verified” that the price of the toothbrush was listed as $0.01 and that “Tori refused to sell me the toothbrush for the displayed price.” He said the police “said I need to sue them” and that they would make a report of the incident to “take to court.”

david leavitt twitter

A screenshot of the original tweet posted by David Leavitt.

Twitter/@David_Leavitt


“Corporations like @target are not above the law,” Leavitt tweeted. “The police officer told me they’d testify that they saw the price and that the manager wouldn’t sell me the item for the price listed.” 

Most of the angry responses to Leavitt’s tweet criticized him for blaming the store manager and for posting a photo of her. A GoFundMe was started by a third party on behalf of “Tori” called “Send #TargetTori on a Vacation” and has since raised more than $16,000. 

Many aspects of the viral moment are questionable, from the GoFundMe to Leavitt’s journalism credentials

Leavitt didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, and didn’t provide any evidence of his encounter with the police or the report he says the police officers made on Twitter, so it’s unclear if he really called the police. 

Additionally, he wrote in a follow-up tweet that “I have not been able to afford to go to a dentist in over three years. So yes I wanted a good toothbrush and was thrilled to see such an amazing prize on an @OralB but @target refused to honor it and now I have to take them to court.”

Other Twitter users pointed out that Leavitt tweeted “#YouAreWinningWhen you get the dentist’s office waiting room to turn off Fox News” on April 24, 2018, contradicting his claim that he hadn’t been to a dentist in over three years. 

Leavitt’s bio on Twitter is also questionable. He claims to be an “award-winning multimedia journalist” with bylines at CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and the Examiner – but he has repeatedly gone viral for outrageous, offensive tweets, and both CBS and AXS have tweeted that he is not affiliated with them.

He appears to have been a freelancer at one point, and a screen capture on the internet archive the Wayback Machine shows he authored at least one post for AXS in 2014, but his author page has since been removed from the website. 

When Leavitt last went majorly viral, it was because he tweeted “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too” the day of the Manchester Arena bombing at a Grande concert that left 23 people dead. After that tweet received media attention for the backlash it sparked, both CBS and AXS disavowed him.

david leavitt ariana grande tweet

A screenshot of another David Leavitt tweet that went viral for sparking outrage.

Twitter/@rainkinsgreen


The only other recent writing Leavitt seems to have done is for his own blog, LuvItOrLeavitt. On his Muck Rack page, a site that collects journalist’s clips, most of the articles that appear to be authored by him are not actually written by Leavitt. Some are written by or are about the author David Leavitt, who is a different person. 

Additionally, the GoFundMe started on behalf of the manager “Tori” is not actually linked to the Target manager herself. Despite quickly raising more than $16,000 at the time of publication, the GoFundMe was started by someone who has yet to establish communication with the real “Tori,” so the money will actually go to the third party. 

The name of the GoFundMe account raising money is Carpe Donktum, who is a semi-prominent pro-Trump meme creator. They have over 200,000 Twitter followers, and used the platform to raise money for “Tori” quickly.

An update posted by Carpe Donktum, who didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, says “I am in the process of tracking her down to discuss how to transfer the funds.” On Twitter, Carpe Donktum also said they believe they have made contact with “THE TORI” and is working to confirm her identity. 

“You don’t know me, but many others do, and I hope they would say I have built my reputation as an honest person with integrity,” the account replied to someone asking how donators know the money is really going to “Tori.”

Target didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 



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Wall Street Insider January 18

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Only 90-some-odd days until next bank-earnings season!

The trifecta of JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Citi, followed by the rest of the Wall Street crowd in the days after, meant a week of early mornings for financial journalists. That’s OK, though, since we also get to have some fun parsing testy exchanges on analyst calls — this is, after all, a world where “thanks for that” often means quite the opposite, and “let me try that question again” is basically the webinar version of an all-out brawl. 

All of that verbal wrangling is part of a quest for “color” — in non-earnings-world speak, that’s anything to help decipher the rush of numbers and vague explanations banks throw at you. Luckily, our reporters are always talking to insiders to do just that. 

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to Wall Street Insider, you can sign up here

Alex Morrell explained what’s behind a much-welcomed surge in bond-trading revenue across Wall Street. It sure seems like a great time to be an agency mortgage trader — insiders say JPMorgan led the pack there —  but it may be a short-lived party. 

Morgan Stanley is normally among the last to report when it comes to big-bank earnings, but earlier in the week Alex was quick to nab all the names (here’s the list) of its 2020 MD promotes. It’s a smaller class than recent years — understandable given the 1,500 layoffs the bank announced in December. Oh, and Alex also got the names of the new crop of Bank of America sales and trading MDs, and broke news on a big FICC overhaul there. 

Dakin Campbell has been covering Goldman Sachs’ huge transformation under CEO David Solomon. Goldman execs told analysts to hang on until the bank’s first-ever investor day for the real juicy stuff on its five-year plan. But as Dakin noted, Solomon did unveil key details this week about transitioning the bank’s private investing platform to be more reliant on outside money. 

To segue out of publicly-traded firms and into the startup space, Bradley Saacks noted that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is “proud” that analytics platform Aladdin is close to topping $1 billion in revenue, a threshold only 3% of tech startups beat. Turns out, the one big secret to startup success that nobody’s telling you is being attached to the world’s largest asset manager. (BlackRock also blew past a mind-boggling $7 trillion in assets.) 

That brings us to a call that caught everyone off-guard — this one was for the card folks after Visa announced it would buy buzzy fintech Plaid for $5.3 billion. And as Dan DeFrancesco pointed out, Visa CEO Al Kelly made what might seem like a passing comment that actually has huge implications for the web of financial players that will interact with a Visa-owned Plaid. 

Not everyone’s racing to snap up fintechs, though. As Rebecca Ungarino reported, Merrill Lynch has zero plans to buy a robo-adviser. That thinking highlights how standalone wealth-tech firms may be in a tricky spot as legacy players invest in their own tech. Meanwhile, new startups in the space have ground nearly to a halt. 

Long reads below, including a deep dive on how exactly pricing algorithms for iBuyers like SoftBank-backed Opendoor work; Jamie Dimon’s argument for why JPMorgan should really be thought of (and valued like) a subscription service; and why KKR is looking in unlikely places to invest in tech companies.

Have a great weekend, 

Meredith 


Insiders explain how iBuyers like SoftBank-backed Opendoor mix algorithms and human decision-making to flip houses

iBuyers, companies that purchase homes with almost instant all-cash offers, renovate and quickly resell them, were born in 2014 in the heat and sun of Phoenix, Arizona. 

SoftBank-backed Opendoor, now valued at $3.8 billion, first started purchasing homes in Phoenix that December.

By 2015, competitor Offerpad was also buying and flipping homes in Phoenix. The iBuyer model has continued to grow, with established real-estate listing players like Redfin and Zillow entering the fray. There are now active iBuyer markets in almost every region of the US, and even some international regions.

While iBuyers have tested new markets, Phoenix’s lack of seasonality, an active local economy and housing market, and largely new housing stock has made it the iBuyer capital. 

READ FULL STORY HERE


WeWork convinced a skeptical SEC to let it use a wonky metric that tested accounting rules. Here are 58 pages of letters showing how the coworking company changed the agency’s mind.

Business Insider obtained 58 pages of correspondence between the SEC and WeWork about the coworking company’s IPO filing and questions or concerns the agency had about the document.

One crucial piece of the back-and-forth centered on the company’s use of a non-GAAP financial metric.

The SEC originally asked WeWork to “remove disclosure of this measure throughout your registration statement.”

After pushback from WeWork’s lawyers, including a former chief of the same SEC division asking the company to scrap the metric, the agency relented and allowed the company to continue using the metric after it made some changes. 

READ THE FULL STORY AND SEE ALL THE DOCUMENTS HERE


Jamie Dimon makes renewed pitch for JPMorgan to be valued like a subscription service — and it shows how Wall Street is trying to echo Big Tech

Jamie Dimon may have just a tiny bit of tech envy. 

The JPMorgan Chase CEO sounded a familiar note on Tuesday on a call with journalists when he casually compared his bank to competitors in Silicon Valley. Answering a question about whether the bank’s stellar performance has driven its stock price as high as it will go, Dimon said one aspect of its revenue — much of it being very stable — is similar to a subscription-based model.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE


A KKR exec explained how private equity is looking in unlikely places to invest in tech companies

Private equity firm KKR just raised $2.2 billion to invest in fast-growing tech companies and it will now hunt for deals in regions far beyond Silicon Valley. 

Dave Welsh, a KKR exec leading its technology media and telecom growth equity unit, said that it would seek investments in areas such as Florida, the greater Washington, D.C., area and Atlanta, as well as the Rocky Mountain region in Colorado and other regions throughout the Midwest.

The willingness to go far and wide points to how competition for the best investments across the private equity spectrum is getting stiffer, and more PE firms are getting creative with how they deploy their capital — seeking smaller, including minority, investments.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Charles Schwab just pulled the plug on a nearly $100 billion program where rival firms paid to sell ETFs

The broker wars have uncovered some complicated alliances, and it’s not always clear who’s friend or foe. 

Discount broker Charles Schwab just shuttered a nearly $100 billion program where it sold products from third-party asset management giants like State Street, JPMorgan Asset Management, and BlackRock.

The wealth management and brokerage firm said in its fourth-quarter earnings results on Thursday that it discontinued the program, called Schwab ETF OneSource, “as a result of the elimination of online trading commissions for US and Canadian-listed ETFs.”

The move, completed in the fourth quarter, highlights the tough reality the money-management industry has found itself in following the major brokerages’ decisions to remove online trading fees for stocks and ETFs late last year.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Credit Karma has been pegged as a 2020 IPO likely, but its CEO is more focused on developing new products as the $4 billion fintech does more than just free credit scores

Credit Karma, long known for its free credit scores, launched as something of a marketing firm, connecting its users with credit cards and loans and getting paid by the banks that offered those products.

But today, it’s one of Silicon Valley’s hottest fintechs, with a $4 billion valuation and 100 million users. And its audience has grown fast. The 13-year-old company added 75 million users in the last five years alone and says 1 in 2 millennials are on the platform.

Reports from the Wall Street Journal and CNBC have pegged Credit Karma as a 2020 IPO candidate, though its CEO has said he sees listing as a means, not an end, and is more focused on launching new products than going public soon. Credit Karma has indicated it is profitable according to past media reports. 

As Credit Karma looks to do more than free credit scores, it’s also eyeing the next cohort of spenders — Gen Z.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE



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